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Nikhil Goyal

Journalist, activist, and author of Schools on Trial: How Freedom and Creativity Can Fix Our Educational Malpractice

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  • About Nikhil Goyal

    At age 20, Nikhil Goyal is the author of Schools on Trial: How Freedom and Creativity Can Fix Our Educational Malpractice. He has appeared on MSNBC, FOX, and NPR, and has written for The New York Times, MSNBC, VICE Magazine, The Nation, and other publications.

    Goyal has developed a wide speaking platform including engagements with the Clinton Global Initiative University, Google, The Atlantic, Fast Company, NBC, MIT, Yale, Stanford, University of Cambridge, Barnard College, SXSW, and the LEGO Foundation, among others.

    A recent graduate of a large public high school and a student in the No Child Left Behind and Race to the Top era, Nikhil Goyal’s own experience has ignited his burning passion for change. His lectures expose the teaching-to-test regime in place across the nation, offering instead a hopeful blueprint of how schools can nurture children’s creativity and love of learning instead of squelching them.

    In 2012, he was named one of the “World Changers” for Dell #Inspire100. In 2013, he was named to the Forbes “30 Under 30” list. He is also a recipient of the 2013 Freedom Flame Award.

  • Speaking Topics

    Transforming Education

    In this lecture, Nikhil Goyal shines light on the most extraordinary models of learning around the nation. He presents case studies and research that suggest schools are exhausting children’s creativity, curiosity, and love of learning. He draws from many years of reporting and research on alternative, progressive, and experiential education, the history of public education, the science of learning, and the maker movement.

    The Fight Against Corporate, Neoliberal Education Reform

    In this talk, Nikhil Goyal exposes the insanity of the corporate education reform agenda from high-stakes standardized testing to privatization to austerity measures. Drawing from his experience as a student in the No Child Left Behind and Race to the Top era, he discusses why we need to adequately fund public education, move away from the drill, kill, bubble-fill culture, support teachers and teachers’ unions, and dismantle the standardized testing regime.

    Student Voice and Rights

    Children are people, too. Nikhil Goyal shows why young people need autonomy, dignity, and rights and deserve to have their voices heard and represented in school. He examines democratic and free schools, where students and teachers participate in democratic meetings and vote on school policies. Later, he discusses student rights, how students can exercise them, and spot incidents where their rights are being violated.

    Reinventing College Admissions

    For decades, colleges and universities have relied on traditional metrics, like grades and standardized test scores in the admissions process. Nikhil Goyal argues that students are multi-dimensional human beings, not simply numbers in a spreadsheet, and the admissions process should reflect that reality. He traces the history of college admissions, presents the problems with the SAT and ACT, and offers examples of colleges that have gone test-optional and have innovative admissions processes.

  • Video

  • Praise for Nikhil Goyal

    Praise for Schools on Trial

    Science fiction writer Ray Bradbury and many other famous writers, artists, journalists, and computer coders would have failed in today’s educational system. Schools on Trial will force you to think deeply about problems in today’s schools.

    Temple Grandin, author of Thinking in Pictures and The Autistic Brain

    Schools on Trial is a terrific book, terribly important, written with the kind of energy that ought to stir a lot of students and then parents to resist the dismal status quo. Nikhil Goyal made me nostalgic: John Holt and I taught together in the first year of Upward Bound. George Dennison and I became good friends three years later. Ivan Illich called me on the phone in 1968 (I had no idea who he was) and literally ordered me to spend a month with Paolo Freire. I can't tell you how grateful I am that Nikhil Goyal is bringing fuel to an old fire that Holt and Freire first ignited for us almost 50 years ago.

    Jonathan Kozol

    As Illich, Holt, Gatto and others have done before him, Goyal reminds us that our public school system was modeled after the factories of the early 1900s, that much more powerful ways of educating our children are available, and that school as most people know it today is a relic that has no legitimate place in our country's future. Maybe Goyal will succeed where the other school reformers failed. For the sake of our children and our society, I certainly hope so

    Robert Epstein, Ph.D., author of Teen 2.0: Saving Our Children and Families from the Torment of Adolescence; former editor-in-chief, Psychology Today

    Rarely do we think of high school students as prisoners, but Nikhil Goyal does—and he should know because he was one until just a few years ago. His book is a powerfully written, revolutionary indictment of our system of schooling. Goyal makes a compelling case for the need to listen to the voices of kids and offer meaningful learning alternatives.

    Tony Wagner, author of Creating Innovators and Expert in Residence at the Harvard Innovation Lab

    This well-documented, solid, highly engaging book gives me hope for the future of education. Nikhil Goyal does much more than explain the failings of our standard, coercive schools. He reviews the growing number of alternative educational routes that are empowering and joyful rather than demeaning and dreary. We look to the day when such choices are available to everyone.

    Peter Gray, Research Professor at Boston College and author of Free to Learn: Why Unleashing the Instinct to Play Will Make Our Children Happier, More Self-Reliant, and Better Students for Life
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  • 212 572-2013
  • Nikhil Goyal travels from New York, NY

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